Posts tagged as: dial-a-ride

South Africa: Dial-a-Ride Users Say the Service Is Deteriorating

By William Yoder

Some members of the Dial-a-Ride User’s Forum have expressed concerns about the safety and quality of the service as well as fee increases under the current contractor.

Members of the forum say the service they get from Dial-a-Ride, which provides transportation to people with disabilities, has deteriorated since HG Travelling Services won the tender on 1 December 2015.

In April, users protested against the provincial government about the use of MyCiTi branding, availability, cost and safety. A Dial-a-Ride bus was attacked recently in a housing protest.

Debbie Bedien, a member of the forum, said that buses used to be plain white with yellow Dial-a-Ride logos. “Whether it was taxi strikes, public strikes,or bus strikes, we weren’t affected,” Bedien said. But the buses now have the colour scheme and the logo of MyCiTi buses.

HG Travelling Services referred GroundUp to the City of Cape Town for comment. The City said the vehicles were clearly marked on the back and sides. However, a Dial-a-Ride vehicle which GroundUp photographed did not have these signs on the right side (it did have a sign on the left side).

Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, said, “The MyCiTi logo features on all of those vehicles that are contracted by the City to provide a public transport service to the public.”

Dial-a-Ride Forum members also complained about the rising cost of the service. Since 2015, a 20km trip with Dial-a-Ride has gone from R8.80 to R13; for a trip under 5km it has gone from R6.70 to R9.

Members of the forum complained that the service was very booked up and Cape Town’s other public transport services were mostly inaccessible, a situation not set to change for several years.

“By 10:30am all rides [for the next week] are fully booked,” said Bedien.

About 800 people use the service on a “regular or ad hoc basis” according to Herron. He said HG Travelling Services had increased capacity for wheelchair users from 72 to 102 since gaining the contract. It currently operates 21 vehicles, 20 of which can accommodate passengers using wheelchairs.

Elroy Lodewyk, also a member of the Dial-a-Ride forum, said bookings were sometimes missed. He said some commuters had even lost their jobs due to the lack of reliability of Dial-a-Ride.

But Herron said, “The City was not informed about any commuter who has lost his/her job as a result of the Dial-a-Ride service.”

He said financial penalties could be imposed by the City should HG Travelling Services fail to provide adequate service.

Dial-a-Ride users say that passengers can be on the bus for hours. Another member of the forum, Luwie Links, said, “They pick up something like nine people. If you are first to be picked up at 5:10am in the morning, you will arrive at work at 8 or 8:30am.”

Members of the forum are also unhappy that Dial-a-Ride now requires users to be assessed by an occupational therapist every two years, even in cases where users’ disabilities are permanent.

Lodewyk said, “I’m 22 years in a wheelchair. What, after 23 years I will walk again?”

South Africa: Protesters Call for Better Transport for Disabled People

By Tariro Washinyira

“I am disabled and not stupid”

About 50 people, many of them with disabilities, protested yesterday in the city centre, calling for better public transport service for disabled people.

The protesters were complaining about the Dial-a-Ride (DAR) service provided by the City of Cape Town. One of the organisers, Shirlene Jonker, handed a memorandum of demands to the City of Cape Town representative, Wilfred Solomon-Johannes. Jonker later told GroundUp that Solomon-Johannes had promised that his office would respond within seven days.

Among other things, the protesters called for more buses to be made available, for more school children to be accommodated, for caregivers to be allowed onto the buses with the people they were taking care of, for the present seven day booking period to be scrapped, and for people with disabilities to be consulted before changes were made to the transport system.

“I am disabled and not stupid” and “Away with seven days booking” read some of the placards carried by the protesters.

Plumstead resident Naomi Mxego (31) said she had taken leave from work to join the protest.

“I am not asking for free things. All I am asking is for the government to assist me to contribute towards the country’s economy. I am a voter therefore it is my right to access well managed transport.”

She said the City made decisions about Dial-a-Ride without consulting users, “yet we are paying for this service”.

She complained that the booking system did not work.

Feroza Obaray (55) from Grassy Park said she had missed a medical appointment because her helpers had not been allowed on the bus with her. When she moved to a new area, she said, she had been expected to go to a Commissioner of Oaths to certify a letter for the City Council to prove that she had moved. She had to book the transport to visit the commissioner seven days in advance.

She said, “I pay R13 a trip from Grassy Park to Cape Town. It is irritating that I am paying money for a poor service.”

On its website, the City explains that Dial-a-Ride is “a public transport service for people with disabilities who – due to the nature of their disability – are unable to board and/or alight from mainstream public transport such as trains, buses and minibus taxis for their daily commute between home and work.

“Created exclusively for this purpose, DAR is an effort to provide eligible persons with a public transport option that although limited, enables them to become economically active, self-supporting and independent. This allows businesses to employ people with disabilities who would otherwise not be able to travel to and from the workplace.”

“DAR serves as a bridging measure until mainstream public transport becomes universally accessible.”

GroundUp is seeking comment from the City which will be added when it is received.

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